How to Complain Effectively
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How to Complain Effectively

Find that you have a valid complaint but canÂ’t seem to get anyone to listen? Follow these steps to make sure you get your point across.

Whatever your complaint is about, the steps to dealing with it are the same.

First of all, you need to deal with the situation calmly and objectively so if you are feeling angry, walk away and cool off before tackling the situation. In general, no matter how valid your complaint, the more emotional you are the less seriously you are taken. You may also end up saying things that you will regret and end up making yourself look foolish by uttering empty threats.

The saying, “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” Is particularly apt as, by presenting your complaint unemotionally you are less likely to put the person you’re complaining to on the defensive and they’ll be more inclined to assist you.

The next step is to gather your facts. It is pointless complaining about something that the company has taken measures to point out or that you should reasonably have known about. For example, if the company states that deliveries are done within 7-14 days, it is unreasonable to complain unless that time has elapsed. By the same measure, know your contract – if the company has made provisions for service delivery failures, know what these are and what measures you can reasonably expect. To phone the company and demand that your item be delivered by 5 o’clock that afternoon or else is not only unreasonable but makes you look foolish.

Take a minute to write down exactly what your expectations were and what went wrong. Also write down what your ideal outcome to the complaint would be and also what you’d consider a reasonable compromise.

Now you need to find out whom to address your complaint to. It is not always the best option to demand to speak to a manager. Very often managers will need to investigate before being able to give you and answer and they will enlist the assistance of an “underling” to do so. Address your complaint correctly.

Give the first line responders a chance to resolve it. If it cannot be resolved immediately, get the details of the person to whom you are speaking. Find out from them what their proposed plan of action is and how long they expect it to take. They should commit to calling you back and also tell you when to expect their call. Make notes.

Should they not follow up on their promises or commitments, escalate the complaint to a superior. Restate the complaint calmly and give the details of your progress so far. Tell them what you were promised and get a commitment from them as well, in exactly the same way as above.

Should this still not be resolved, ascertain why. If no satisfactory answer is forthcoming, find out what regulatory body presides over that particular industry. There is generally some form of independent ombudsman or mediating body for each industry.

Contact the company one last time. Explain that you are giving them a last chance to answer your complaint or you will be referring it to the regulatory body. If your complaint is a reasonable one, this step is seldom necessary, as most companies aim to stop complaints before they end up at such levels.

All in all, most companies want to end up with a win-win situation which satisfies the client and also their store policy. A reasonable request, presented in a polite and courteous fashion is unlikely to meet with a complete refusal but rather with a good compromise.

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Comments (1)

excellent advice Fiona. I always take the name of everyone I deal with in such situations

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